Semonchik modest, but scarfing up opportunity

       Knitting scarves started as a hobby for Shirley Semonchik… something to do during breaks in her last couple of years as an assistant principal at West Middle School. Shirley Semonchik wears as well as displays scarves she’s made.
Westside Pioneer photo
       It still is a hobby, she says. The difference is that, as time goes by and she keeps trying different techniques, yarns and color combinations, other people are starting to see her creations as art.
       The fourth annual Artists' Studio Tour and Sale Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 11-12 will be the Westside resident's first exhibit. The site will be her home (where she also works), 2611 W. Kiowa St. In a recent interview, she admitted to being a little nervous. Modestly, she asserted that “anybody could do this” and that it's the others on the tour who “are such great artists. I'm in awe of them.”
       Semonchik has thoughts on why no one else IS making scarves quite like hers: The materials aren't cheap, the work takes time and, with the vertical stitching technique she's come up with, the yarn gets so “scrunched up” on the needles that she has “no idea what it will look like” until she's done.
       Originally, her scarves had more of a functional aspect. It's just in the last year that she's started getting “fancier and fancier,” as she put it. A typical scarf by Semonchik has between 7 and 15 kinds of yarn, with one or more sparkly syles mixed in to add flair.
       She enjoys shopping for yarns, then developing ideas for putting them together. “The more I do it, the more I know what to look for,” she said. “At first, it was just hit and miss.”
       The art world is nothing new to Semonchik. She has been a concert pianist and, as a singer and dancer, had roles at the Pikes Peak Center in “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Mame.” Her 31 years working in education didn't always provide art opportunities, but “every school I went to, I redid the lounge,” she chuckled.
       Will yarn wearables continue to be her art form? Semonchik isn't sure. She's doubtful that enough people will want to pay her necessary asking price, and she also has an issue with constantly making originals that cannot be easily recreated. “I've learned so much about textures and colors, I'd like to get into something more enduring,” she mused. But at the same time, she gets a kick out of seeing her scarves looking good on her customers. “I want people to buy the scarves and have fun with them,” she said.

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